Eminent Indian-origin academician Srikant Datar has been named as Dean of Harvard Business School, succeeding Nitin Nohria and becoming the second consecutive dean hailing from India to lead the prestigious 112-year-old institution.
Datar, an alumnus of University of Bombay and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, is the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration and the senior associate dean for University Affairs at Harvard Business School (HBS).
He will assume charge as the school’s next dean on January 1, President Larry Bacow said.
Bacow described Datar as an “innovative educator, a distinguished scholar, and a deeply experienced academic leader.”
“He is a leading thinker about the future of business education, and he has recently played an essential role in HBS’s creative response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served with distinction in a range of leadership positions over his nearly 25 years at HBS, while also forging novel collaborations with other Harvard Schools,” Bacow said.
Datar said he is in equal measures “humbled and honoured” to take on the new role.
“Harvard Business School is an institution with a remarkable legacy of impact in research, education, and practice. Yet the events of the past year have hastened our passage to an unforeseen future,” he said, adding that he looks forward to working with colleagues and friends of the school to realise “our mission in what undoubtedly will be an exciting new era.”
Datar will become the 11th dean in the business school history.
He will succeed Nohria, who last November announced his plans to conclude his deanship at the end of June 2020, after 10 years of service.
Nohria had agreed to continue through this December in view of the pandemic, a statement posted on the Harvard Gazette website said.
Datar received his bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from the University of Bombay in 1973.
A chartered accountant, he went on to receive a postgraduate diploma in business management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, before completing master’s degrees in statistics and economics and a Ph.D.in business from Stanford University.
From 1984 to 1989, he was an assistant professor and then associate professor at the Carnegie Mellon Graduate School of Industrial Administration, where he was honoured with the George Leland Bach Teaching Award.
From 1989 to 1996, he served on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he rose to become the Littlefield Professor of Accounting and Management and was recognised with the school’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
The statement added that as a native of India who has travelled widely on the HBS’s behalf, Datar brings a broad international perspective to his work.
He has presented his research to audiences of academics and executives in North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
He has led discussions and workshops on management education on several continents, has written numerous papers and cases focused on enterprises based abroad, and is faculty co-chair of the HBS Senior Executive Program–Africa, which was launched in 2016 and has since offered programs for executives in South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, and Mauritius.
He also serves on the governing body of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.
The statement said that since joining the HBS faculty in 1996, Datar has held a series of key positions, as the school’s senior associate dean responsible for faculty recruiting, for faculty development, for executive education, for research, and currently for University affairs.
He has served since 2015 as faculty chair of the Harvard Innovation Labs, or i-lab.
Most recently, he has been intensively engaged in envisioning and implementing the innovative hybrid teaching and learning model that HBS has adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.
Bacow added that Datar will come to the deanship with a broad international perspective, decades of close engagement with business practice, and a strong commitment to building an increasingly diverse and inclusive HBS community.
“He is also a warm, generous, and thoughtful colleague and mentor — someone whose leadership experience, intimate knowledge of HBS, deep devotion to the institution, and talent for catalysing constructive change all promise to serve the School and the University well, at a pivotal moment for business education.”
Nohria said Datar is an “outstanding choice” as Harvard Business School’s next dean and he has thought deeply about the challenges and opportunities facing management education, and has a proven record of collaboration, innovation, and leadership — not only within HBS, but across Harvard and at other organisations.
Co-author of several books, Datar played a key role in launching both the M.S.-M.B.A. in biotechnology and life sciences (with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School) and the M.S.-M.B.A. in engineering sciences (with the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) joint degree programs.
Datar currently serves on the boards of companies such as Novartis and T-Mobile US.
Founded in 1908, the Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offer full-time programs leading to the M.B.A. and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 70 open-enrollment executive-education programs and 55 custom programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the digital-learning platform.